2013 is fast disappearing already, in China the New Year celebrations have long finished. 2012 was a challenge, 2013 will be no different. For my late Spring eflyer: me and the interim market; green goes main stream; portfolio interim management – a very flexible solution for clients. For those who are not familiar, Andrew has delivered over 20 interim assignments taking companies, projects, functions and situations from A to B, primarily in the engineering sector, frequently multidisciplinary, and often cross border. Around 70% of my assignments are repeat business or recommendations.

It’s almost voyeuristic in the same way as reading a horoscope.

A survey* on your sector – have they got it “right” and (more importantly) do I fit? Interim managers have been around for 20 years – me as an interim for the last 16 – so amongst the 10% most experienced. Experience over youth dominates. A typical interim is mid 50’s, that’s me (but fitter than when I was 40). Around 12% of interims operate internationally – my first international interim assignment was in 2001 running a factory in France, 2012 saw me getting off planes in Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, Madrid, Hamburg….and Edinburgh. Around 40% of interims find their own assignments, international interim manager’s disproportionality so, for me nearer 90%. Interim managers are of a type it seems – 70% are within 5 specific Myers Briggs personaility types (there are 00’s), and I am in there (ISTJ); interims are a self-selecting group who most value the variety and flexibility of interim working. Thankfully we are a busy bunch – 70% on assignment, yes me too but tomorrow never looks after it self. Typical interim assignment duration is 8 months, for me the shortest was 12 days, the longest 2 years.

And the people who matter most? Clients, 85% of whom are supportive of the interim concept (an unrelated FT survey found approx. 90% of first time interim users went on to use interims for further work). Clients look to interims for speed of delivery, specialist skills, to manage change (of one sort or another) and commitment. 54% of clients have their own network for placing assignments (seems the more so for technically driven and international assignments) and over 45% of clients look for interims to deliver at director level. Nobody would pretend that the interim market has matured, it is still fragmented but now consolidating (and this is where the best of the interim service providers will play a major role). But with an estimated value of £1.5Bn per year it has certainly arrived.

So Andrew is the classic long experienced interim industrialist, knows how to get things from A to B, confident in crossing borders and disciplines.

Portfolio interim management. Can you just sort it?

An interim assignment in Brazil with a highly regarded plc engineering services client at the beginning of the 2012 came out of a short phone call: “Are you available and are you OK for Brazil?” (see Interims Don’t Do Gloss – August 2012 issue) drew to a close in early March of that year.

A corridor conversation with the same client “Andrew, could you look at Spain as a defence business development prospect……?” Spain’s troubles are well documented but it will recover. The question is when? Adversity brings opportunity (it turns out). Parts of industrial Spain are doing fine (rapidly increasing their international foot print), extreme public spending constraints mean the State has a willingness to look at the new. My client has a very strong presence in the naval marine sector; could I create support opportunities with the Spanish Navy? Three months later we are sitting in a conference room: my client’s CEO, New Business Director, our Spanish industrial partner and Spanish in-uniform decision makers. The Spain project is handed over and now being developed on by one of my client’s own directors.

Same corridor, 3 months later …..A couple of contracts, we are worried, can you sort?” Contracts can be tricky things (sometimes intentionally). The only answer is to go back to the words and instructions – signed before the practicality of delivery and acceptance had been matured. My client was in a much a much better position than they expected, in the end it all hinged on a few words in one email dated 2 years ago. There was negotiation to re-align all to reality, but it got there and now has some of my client’s good people on the case and they are back in control.

So what’s the message? My client wanted somebody who could take an emerging portfolio of situations and “just deal with them”, no support, no noise, just an answer in place and running. It’s what interim delivery is all about.

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